Fenceline Artifact & Prairie Wedge

1994 • Denver International Airport, Denver, Colorado • Collaboration with Sherry Wiggins

Fenceline Artifact: Displaced farm equipment. 15’ x 1000’ x 15’.

Prairie Wedge: Pivot irrigation apparatus, native prairie grasses, and wild flowers. 180' long wedge.

Fenceline Artifact intersects the DIA landscape with the memory of its recent history. The materials used to establish this 1,000-foot linear gesture include installed fence, fossil rocks from the excavation site, native cottonwood trees and historic art facts. These artifacts are primarily agricultural implements collected and purchased from farmers who were relocated by the building of the airport. Porcelain enamel signs contain maps of the farmsteads, and birdhouses architecturally replicate some of the farnhouses that once existed at the site. This piece is seen when arriving/departing the airport along Pieña Blvd.


With Fenceline Artifact, the artists sought to "question the current landscape by putting it in the context of its previous one." Many viewers' first reaction is to wonder at the random assortment of farm junk in the middle of a field. Upon learning more, however, people often realize the beauty of it lies in its relation to the landscape's history and the new airport.


Prairie Wedge presents a sweeping landscape from the south end of Jeppesen Terminal while the old irrigation pivot complements the tensile technology of the roof structure.  This planting of indigenous prairie grasses and flowers in a homage to high plains agriculture utilizing traditional techniques as well as efficient solutions.  The living exhibition is a welcome sign for the passing motorist, the airborne traveler and the viewer looking out the large glass wall at the south end of the Terminal.


Columnist Baxter Black writes:

"My reaction, which apparently was a common one, was... 'What!' ... Since then I have driven by the fence countless times. One day I began to sense that the fence was more than just a boondoggle boneyard... The creators of Fenceline Artifact have turned our boneyard into a monument. It is a tribute to the people and machinery who have made it possible for civilization to cling, albeit tenuously, to the windy, unpredictable, unforgiving plain."


Local farmers, many of whom have memories of the artifacts, have been similarly moved.


Sherry Wiggins says:

"When we were building Fenceline, during the construction of the Airport, a lot of the people that worked on the airport would stop by and talk to us. A lot of these people had grown up on the plains and fanned and ranched. They appreciated the piece. Other people have commented that at first they thought that somebody just forgot to take this stuff away when they built the airport, but then realized that it was put there on purpose and liked the idea of the reminder of the agricultural life of the area."

© 1994 Buster Simpson & Sherry Wiggins

Site Design by Todd Metten

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